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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Science News for February 28, 2012

The NY Times Science section has many articles on colds and flu today because people are getting sick lately. My grandson, Grant, was home from school for several days with a high fever and no other symptoms; throat culture came back negative, the antibiotic didn't help as the virus simply had to run its course. The articles state that people catch colds more frequently if they don't wash their hands often or if they touch their noses and mouths with their fingers frequently; nothing new there. Another article states that we are more susceptible to the viruses on surfaces if we are tired or if our circadian rhythms are disturbed as they are with jet lag. We also know that the body uses sleep to repair itself.Another column points to the cold-transferer who is more infectious the first few days than afterwards and to the temperature and humidity which effect the length of lifetime of the virus.
Pair this information with another article which links non-dementia cognitive impairment with the use of anticholinergic drugs. These drugs include dramamine and benedryl plus medications for insomnia, intenstinal or urinary tract disorders. Unlike dementia, this memory loss and cognitive decline is reversible. Doctors, pharmacists and we patients, need to be aware of what we are taking and perhaps why we are feeling lethargic or mentally sluggish during this cold and flu season.
I found these articles reassuring because my mother's tried and true preventive health measures have been validated by science and  my feelings of lower than usual mental functionning may not necessarily be due to developing dementia. I may be tired, my body may be fighting a cold or I may just be low on omega-3 fatty acids and need to eat more fish.

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